Tampa Movie Weekend – 3.06.09

All the hype this weekend is focused on the bloody arrival of dysfunctional-superhero saga Watchmen, as grim, brutal and overlong a movie as likely to play the multiplexes this year (read my review).

Better news: The third annual Gasparilla International Film Festival continues through Saturday. The Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival continues through March 15.

And still playing Tampa Bay area screens are gorgeous looking animated movie Coraline and quite a few 2008 films that landed Oscar wins and nominations, or should have notched Academy Awards attention.

All of the latter group — including Slumdog Millionaire, Defiance, Gran Torino, The Wrestler, The Reader, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Waltz With Bashir, Frost/Nixon, Rachel Getting Married and The Dark Knight — are far more satisfying than Watchmen.

fanboys-vader-poster-fullsizeAlso opening 3/6:

Fanboys, the tale of five Star Wars fanatics who break into George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch in 1998 to steal a print of Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (released in 1999). The road-trip  comedy includes a brawl between Star Wars fans and Trekkies. Seth Rogen makes a cameo, as do Princess Leia, er, Carrie Fisher and fellow Star Wars cast member Billy Dee Williams; William Shatner (Captain Kirk, of Star Trek); and Kevin Smith.  “The most appealing aspect of the movie is that the guys and gal at the center of it don’t just love the Star Wars saga for its own sake,” Michael Sragow writes in the Baltimore Sun. “They love the way they feel about each other when they’re escaping into its universe and sharing all the wonder and the trivia.


  • Tampa TheatreTwo Lovers , the well-reviewed new drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw; cast also includes Isabella Rossellini and Elias Koteas (through March 11)
  • Beach Theatre (St. Petersburg Beach) – Slumdog Millionaire
  • Burns Court (Sarasota) – Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Waltz with Bashir, Two Lovers

Oscar Talk: Slumdog Wins Big with Best Picture, Multiple Major Other Awards

oscars7Nice touches for this year’s Oscars, including insightful and sometimes touching introductions of this year’s acting nominees by notable past winners; a terrific musical sequence featuring A.R. Rahman, John Legend and the Soweto Gospel Choir; and a Busby Berkeley-style dance sequence, capped with Jackman’s shout, “The musical is back!” (well, not quite).

slumdog_poster1Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Said Christian Colson, Slumdog’s producer: “We had passion and we had belief and our film shows that if you have those two things then truly anything is possible.”

Best actor: Sean Penn, Milk.

Penn (joking): “You commie, homo-loving sons of guns. I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me, often” and “Mickey Rourke rises again, and he is my brother.”

Best actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader

Winslet: “I think we can’t believe that we’re all in the same category at all. I’m sorry Meryl, you’ll have to just suck that up.”

Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Foreign Language Film: Departures (Japan)

Original song:  A.R. Rahman, “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire

Rahman talked about how Slumdog is about “optimism and the power ofhope in our lives. All my life I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here. God bless.”

Original score: Slumdog Millionaire

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was presented to Jerry Lewis, who has raised $2 BILLION — I was stunned by this number — for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. No surprises, just a brief thanks. I’m thinking that Lewis probably deserved a more extensive tribute, at least via a longer series of clips from his films and a more expansive explanation of his impact on film comedy than that offered by Eddie Murphy.

Editing: Slumdog Millionaire

Sound mixing: Slumdog Millionaire

Sound editing: The Dark Knight

Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Documentary short: Smile Pinki

Documentary feature: Man on Wire

Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Ledger’s father, mother and sister accepted on his behalf. Sister: “We proudly accept this award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda (his daughter)”

Live Action Short: Toyland

Director of Toyland: “I spent four years of my life making this 14-minute movie.”

Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire

Ben Stiller offered a hilarious impression of Joaquin Phoenix, circa his recent, bizarre visit with David Letterman – i.e., Stiller, wearing an out-of-control beard, and chewing gum, was entirely distracted. Stiller: “I just want to retire from being a funny guy.” He aimlessly wandered around while Natalie Portman talked about cinematography.

Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Costume Design: The Duchess

Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Animated Short Film: La Maison en Petits Cubes

Director Kunio Kato ended his speech with “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” (from the Styx song)

Animated Feature: Wall-E

Wall-E director Andrew Stanton thanked his high-school drama teacher for casting him in “Hello, Dolly”

Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

Simon Beaufoy said that the cast and crew taught him so much about India and “changed my life.”

Original Screenplay:  Milk

Funny “instructional” sequence about screenwriting, with Steve Martin and Tina Fey. And terrific quick illustration of how screenplay translates to a movie.

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona

Cruz spoke about the long road from her lowly origins to the Oscars, and said: “Art in any form is and has been and always will be our universal language and we should do everything we can to protect its survival.”